In support of its mission to help the world run better and improve people’s lives, SAP AG (NYSE: SAP) today announced it will work globally with Specialisterne to employ people with autism as software testers, programmers and data quality assurance specialists. It is estimated that one percent* of the world’s population is affected by autism (Autism Spectrum Disorder).
Specialisterne is an internationally recognized leader in harnessing the talents of people with autism to work in technology-oriented jobs such as software testing, programming and data management. Originally founded in Denmark, Specialisterne has operations around the world, including offices in the U.S., UK, Ireland, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Norway, Iceland and Poland. As part of the partnership, Specialisterne will extend its operations to support SAP’s global expansion of the program over the next several years.
“By concentrating on the abilities that every talent brings to the table, we can redefine the way we manage diverse talents,” said Luisa Delgado, member of the Executive Board of SAP AG, Human Resources. “With Specialisterne, we share a common belief that innovation comes from the ‘edges.’ Only by employing people who think differently and spark innovation will SAP be prepared to handle the challenges of the 21st century.”
“We are very excited by this opportunity to enable SAP global access to a huge pool of untapped talent and therefore, help strengthen SAP’s position as a global leader in innovation,” said Thorkil Sonne, founder of Specialisterne and chairman of the board, Specialist People Foundation. “SAP is the first multinational company to partner with us on a global scale. The partnership will position SAP as thought leader and motivate the ecosystem to follow its example.”
The global announcement follows successful pilot projects in India and Ireland that demonstrate the positive impact of empowering people with autism to excel in their areas of strength. Working locally with Specialisterne, SAP® Labs in India hired six people with autism as software testers for SAP® Business Suite applications. As a result, the team has increased their productivity and cohesiveness in key areas. The Ireland pilot is currently completing the screening phase for five positions to be filled this year. SAP will expand the program globally, starting in the U.S., Canada and Germany in 2013.
At SAP, an inclusive and diverse environment promotes a culture that enables employees to find innovative solutions to challenges facing customers as well as society as a whole. Furthering its engagement with the local community of people and families affected by autism, SAP Labs in India recently developed a consumer iPad application called “Bol” to assist with the education of children with autism. This innovative learning program helps children learn and comprehend simple, everyday objects and processes, using auditory, visual and instant feedback functions.